“It’s a shame,” Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Wednesday, “because Jerry Meals is one hell of an umpire.”
Meals is also one hell of an honest ump, based on remarks he made later in the day Wednesday about his call that enabled the Atlanta Braves to win a marathon, 19-inning, 4-3 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Turner Field. The Braves won after Julio Lugo, tagged above his right kneecap on his thigh by Pirates catcher Michael McKenry, was called safe by Meals, inexplicably.
After coming into the locker room, I reviewed the incident through our videos that we have in here and after seeing a few of them, on one particular replay, I was able to see that Lugo’s pant leg moved ever so slightly when the swipe tag was attempted by McKenry. That’s telling me that I was incorrect in my decision and that he should have been ruled out and not safe.
He didn’t exactly apologise; there was no “I’m sorry” in the comment, but clearly Meals knows what did happen. Clearly enough, he said it. Let’s give Meals the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge his regret. He wasn’t out there looking to job the Pirates. But let’s also acknowledge that the blown call is still further evidence on behalf of replay.
Just as clearly, there’s still a lot of baseball to play yet. Though they were surely right to protest the Tuesday/Wednesday outcome, it’s on the Pirates to do exactly what they suggested themselves in protesting—shake it off and play their best baseball the rest of the way. To the extent that nobody can argue one blown call at the plate triggered a pennant race collapse for a plucky team that’s spent the season thus far defying everyone else’s expectations.